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View of Egmond-on-the-Sea

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View of Egmond-on-the-Sea

oil on panel
25 5/8 in. x 19 5/8 in. (65.09 cm x 49.85 cm)
Currier Funds, 1950.4

Jacob van Ruisdael



View of Egmond-on-the-Sea by Jacob van Ruisdael is a vertically oriented landscape painting depicting the Dutch fishing village of Egmond-aan-Zee. The village is behind a large, blasted tree, an elm that was struck by lightning. The village church dominates the townscape, with the iron pinnacle and beacon on its tower. The church had already fallen into disrepair (one can see that the choir is a ruin and lacks a roof), and it finally collapsed completely in 1743. Beyond, one can see the North Sea, the fishery upon which the town was dependent. A road on which two travelers and their livestock are journeying leads into the background of the picture. One traveler appears to have removed his shoes and stockings and rolled up his pants to go through a large puddle. Moisture-laden clouds drift across the sky; their arrangement dictates the pattern of light and shadow on the ground.

Context and Analysis

This picture is one of several Ruisdael painted of Egmond-aan-Zee, which was not far from his home of Haarlem in the Netherlands. The town and nearby castle ruins provided a great deal of subject matter for him. He was about twenty years old when he painted this picture. During this period the artist made many trips around Holland, sketching landscapes and natural elements he would later incorporate into his prints and paintings.

Conservation studies of this painting suggest that Ruisdael painted the clear, blue sky first, then added the tree, and lastly the clouds. Although no underdrawing is evident, the artist did change the structure of the tree as he worked, adding the topmost limb to the left. He appears to have used the formula typical of his early paintings, with an ultramarine sky over white ground, applied with a flat, stiff brush.

The composition is characteristic of Ruisdael’s pictures. A road gives a point of entry for the viewer and leads into the background, while exceedingly specific foliage provides a setting for depictions of some of Holland’s most notable industries. This painting features a fishing village, while other works depicted bleaching fields, grain fields, and windmills. In addition, this picture shows national pride in the newly established Dutch Republic and the strong infrastructure of roads and canals that made its industries possible.

Ruisdael’s extraordinary attention to botanical detail, including the significant way in which he uses trees, is strikingly evident in this picture. Dutch painting of this period is known for its descriptive character and specificity, its “realism.” The twisted elm in this picture takes on the monumental quality usually reserved for ruins and architectural elements, reflecting the artist’s interest in the dramatic and unusual elements of nature.


The Currier owns several landscape pictures related to this one, including a contemporary work by Jan van Goyen, Fort Lillo on the Scheldt (Currier, 1961.17 ), as well as later works, such as John Constable’s Dedham Lock and Mill (Currier, 1949.8) and Jean Baptiste Camille Corot’s Barbizon Landscape (Currier, 1986.37.1). In addition, the collection contains many Dutch landscape prints, including one by Ruisdael, The Little Bridge (Currier, 2010.26.28), and a series by his contemporary, Esaias van de Velde (Currier, 2010.26.31.1).

Written by Melissa Geisler Trafton


Slive, Seymour. Jacob van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005.

Slive, Seymour. Jacob van Ruisdael: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

1951 Worchester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, "Condition Excellent." Mar. 22 - April 22.

1954-1955 "Dutch Painting - The Golden Age." Organized by the Metrolpolitan Museum of Art. Traveled to: Metrolpolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, Oct. 30 - Dec. 19, 1954; Toledo Art Museum, Toledo, OH, Jan. 2 - Feb. 13, 1955; Art Gallery of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Feb. 19 - March 27, 1955.

1957 Albright - Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, "Trends in Painting: 1600-1800." Oct. 2 - Nov. 3.

1972 Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, "Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts from the Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire." May 14 - June 20.

1977 Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, "The Dutch Cityscape in the Seventeenth Century and its Sources." Sept. 27 - Nov. 13.

1981-1982 "Jacob van Ruisdael." Organized by Mauritshuis. Traveled to : Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 1981; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Jan. 18 - April 11, 1982.

2002 "Jacob van Ruisdael order Die Revolution der Landschaft." Traveled to: Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany, Jan. 18 - April 7; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands, "Jacob van Ruisdael - Grandoize Landschappen." April 27 - July 28.

2005-2006 "Jacob van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape." Organized by the Royal Academy of Arts in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum. Traveled to: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 23, 2005 - Feb. 5, 2006; Royal Academy of Arts, London, England, Feb. 25 - June 4, 2006.

2006-2007 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Extended Loan of European and American Paintings. Aug. 2006 - Nov. 2007.

2012-2013 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, "Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt." Sept. 29, 2012 - Jan. 6, 2013.

2017-18 Currier Museum of Art, "Going Baroque." Dec. 9, 2017-Aug. 2018

Sir Francis Cook (1817-1901)
Bequest to his son Frederick Cook (1844-1920)
Bequest to his son Sir Herbert Cook (1868-1939)
Walter Dunkels, Walhurst Manor, Cowfold
E. Speelman (dealer), London, 1946
Christie's, London, lot 124, March 12, 1948
Purchased by Walter Dunkels, 1948
F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc., New York, NY
Purchased by Currier Gallery of Art, 1950

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